Thursday, 16 January 2014

Integrating Aboriginal Culture

In a master's course I took, my group explored Aboriginal literature and the impact of integrating Aboriginal culture into schools.  From cultural tolerance to success for Aboriginal students, the impact of integrating Aboriginal literature, art, and heroes into schools is significant.  This is an area that I began to feel personally convicted about; do I really focus on bringing Aboriginal culture and literature into my classroom?  I like to think that I do, and this is part of the BC curriculum, but I know that I could make a greater effort to add depth and frequency as I explore Aboriginal culture with my class.

Last year, I read Fattylegs by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton aloud to my class.  Fattylegs is the story of a young Inuit girl who lives at a residential school.  It promotes awareness of and discussions about residential schools in an age-appropriate manner.  My class had many questions about the residential school system.  The beautiful artwork throughout the book also provoked many discussions.  I was surprised to find out that many students had never heard about residential schools; this made me feel more convicted about increasing my students' awareness of these issues and other social justice issues.

This year, our district's Aboriginal Culture Mentor came into the school to work with our grade 6/7 classes.  They really enjoyed exploring Aboriginal painting and the stories behind the animals.  I'm looking forward to an upcoming Salish weaving workshop offered by this program, as well.  When I mentioned this in my online master's course, many teachers across Canada commented that their districts didn't have programs such as this.  I really want to make greater use of these opportunities in the future; we are very fortunate to be in a district which supports Aboriginal education in this way!

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